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FAC categories introduction

Many of you noticed that in preliminary propositions for Openscale 2008 there is a new category - Jumbo Scale. As it will be the premier competition in this category in Czech Republic, we asked Bernard Guest (main initiator of this event extension) whether he would not write short introduction about this model category. We did not expect to obtain the article fast, but the surprise was waiting in the mailbox the next day ! So let's take a look together what are the Jumbo Scale categories about.

A few words about Flying Aces Club and evens proposed for Openscale 2008 by Bernard Guest

First let me quote something from their website (this website is now offline for some reason):

Ilustrative image of B-24 Liberator by Chris Starleaf in Jumbo category (wingspan 1500 mm, four rubber bands). Image used with permission of Mike Stuart (Source:

B24 by Chris Starleaf

"The Flying Aces Club is a society of unique individuals with a common interest that at times borders on a passion. It is our intent to preserve and promote the traditional building and flying of free flight stick and tissue model aircraft. Although competitive at times, the sharing of innovations, assistance and camaraderie is second nature to all who believe in the spirit of the FAC. Build! Fly! Win!“

The members of the FAC are dedicated Free Flight model builders and flyers who are in general more interested in the flying than the building although they all build beautiful models. In FAC competitions the flight times of the models is very important so the models tend to be of lightweight construction and designed to fly very well.

The big FAC competitions have about 40 free flight events most of which are for scale models (There are several events for non-scale models like small old time rubber etc.). The scale evens are divided into rubber events (most of the events are for rubber powered models) and CO2/electric events. I will discuss the rubber events in more detail as I have a little experience with these.

Basically there are two types of rubber scale event:

  1. Judged
  2. Mass launch

Judged event points are based on the sum of three point categories:

  1. Static scale score
    where a group of judges evaluates the scale appearance, workmanship, color and markings etc. This typically occurs before the flying starts.
  2. Bonus points
    where a given model is assigned extra points based on its configuration. For example, high wing cabin monoplanes (piper cubs etc.) do not get any bonus points (because they are easy to adjust and fly very well) but difficult to fly configurations (canard float planes, multi engine aircraft, flying wings etc.) get extra point according to the type of configuration (see the FAC rules for details on how many points are given for different configurations).
  3. Flight points
    where the longest of three flight times is used for the final point summation (see rules for details). A flight of 20 seconds or more is considered official.
Image from Mike Stuart web showing Tom Allen starting his Jumbo Westland Pterodactyl Mk.IV. This model received plenty of bonus points ! Image used with permission of Mike Stuart (Source:

Westland Pterodactyl

The main judged events are:

There are several other judged events as well and you can see the FAC rules for details on these if you are interested.

Follow this link to Mike Stuart’s web page which includes a nice set of photos from the static scoring session at the 2006 FAC national competition (40+ events and 300+ competitors): On this page are a series of photos and videos of the flying:

Some points to note in the FAC judged event rules:

  1. scale structure like Rib spacing etc. is not required or important
  2. Under cambered airfoils arenot allowed unless the original aircraft had undercamber
  3. There is no ROG requirement and no limit to propeller diameter
  4. Propellers are not considered in static scoring
  5. Undercarriages can be represented in the “up” position.
  6. Jet aircraft or multi engine aircraft with a flying propeller in a non scale position may be entered
P51 Mustang by Chris Starleaf for Mass launch - WWII event (note simplified design). Image used with permission of Mike Stuart (Source:

P-51B for mass launch

Mass Launch events are flying only events where the flyers launch their models at the same moment and then hope to be the last one on the ground. These events are usually limited to a specific type of aircraft (so that aircraft from a certain era and with similar propertied compete directly with each other as they did in the real world). Some examples of mass launch events are World War I (for mass produced combat aircraft of WWI) and World War II combat (for mass produced combat aircraft of WWII); Thompson trophy race (for aircraft that competed in the Thompson and Greve trophy races held in the United States between 1929 and 1939 e.g. Gee Bee super sportsters, Percival Mew Gulls, Caudron, Hughs racer etc.). These events are run during strict time slots where all preparation (winding etc.), the flight, and the retrieval is done within the time allotted. For example the contest director (CD) will give the order to start winding and announce the launch time. All of the competitors will start winding their motors and preparing for launch, if any break their motors or a strand of their motors they are not allowed to replace the broken or damaged motor and are out of the competition. At the launch time the CD will give the launch command and everyone launched their model. During the flight Each competitor has a “mechanic” who monitors the flight and call out their flyers name when the model touches the ground or goes out of sight. The contest director records the order of arrivals and the last 4 to 6 arrivals quickly retrieve and wind to fly a second round. The last round usually has three competitors and the last arrival of the three wins the mass launch event with the other two coming second and third.

The challenge in this event is not only to get your model to fly the longest but also to make sure that you do not damage the model (no repairs, adjustments or test flights are allowed during the event) or the rubber motor. The motor has to be saved for maximum winds in the last round.

An individual round consists of: launching, retrieving and rewinding the model for the next launch (if you survived the earlier round). In a tight schedule this must all be done in 20 minutes!!

The models for mass launch events are usually more simple because of the emphasis on flying and the lack of a static component. However they are still scale models and must theefore conform to the basic color shape and shape of the full size aircraft.

I hope that this gives everyone a better idea about the FAC and that it inspires some of you to come to Openscale 2008 with a jumbo model or a mass launch model to compete with in the new FAC events. For more information on FAC scale models, the rules or eligible models contact me directly at b.guest[-at-]

Bernard Guest